Tuesday, May 26, 2015

All else fails? Stick an Oreo on top!

About a year ago I told you about some baked goods I made for our church's youth group dinner/auction event.  This year I had to ask the leader if she wanted me to bake.  Apparently having a newborn is like some sort of volunteer magic - no one asks you to volunteer for anything because you have this little needy baby.  Well, I crushed that magic - I asked if I could bake.
This year I wanted to do cinnamon rolls and something else.  The cinnamon rolls because they are fun, smell amazing, are always a fun challenge, and I got to make some for my family too - the Oreo Cupcakes - because they are Oreo cupcakes.
The downfall of these cupcakes was the frosting.  In the pictures of the original recipe, the frosting looked amazingly well piped, held it's form and a Oreo stuck out of the top with pride.  Mine?  As soon as I piped the frosting it began to sink and mush into itself.  I resorted to plopping an Oreo on top like a hat.   So much for presentation.
I did hear back from the highest bidder on one of these plates of cupcakes and she said they were the best cupcakes she's ever eaten.  Now, she's also a teenager so the quantity of cupcakes she's consumed in her life versus mine?  Still - high praise.

The Best Oreo Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 larger size box of unprepared chocolate pudding (or 2 boxes of the small)
1 cup sour cream
4 eggs
1/2 cup of water
About a cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
about 6 very chopped Oreos

For the frosting:
1 package of cream cheese, 8oz. at room temp.
4 cups powder sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 container of Cool Whip, 8oz. thawed


Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Mix together the cake mix, oil, unprepared pudding, sour cream, eggs, and water.  Then add in chocolate chips and finely chopped Oreos.
Bake in cupcake liners for about 18 mins.
While the cupcakes cool, make the frosting.
Beat the cream cheese and vanilla together until smooth and fluffy.  Slowly add in the sugar while continuing to mix the cream cheese mixture.
On a low speed, add in the cool whip.
You may need to allow the frosting to set up in the refrigerator while the cupcakes continue to cool.  Make sure the cupcake are all the way cool before adding frosting.
Put your frosting in a pastry bag.
Stick the point of the pastry bag into the cupcake and squeeze a little frosting into the center.  You will see the cupcake puff up.
Then frost the cupcakes like normal and sprinkle with crushed Oreo.  Stick a full Oreo in the top just for good measure.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Eating Healthy with Cheeseburger Casserole

We've started something new in our house - it's called MyFitnessPal.  Even more extreme - Andy has joined me with getting a FitBit.  Oh my yes.
More than a year ago, I started wearing a FitBit, just started getting into the groove of 10,000 steps a day, then got pregnant and tired.  SO very tired.  Well, several months ago I started back at getting more steps.  Then decided to use MyFitnessPal to track the food I was eating.  It was so easy!  Andy saw how easy and decided to also do it.  It's been a huge encouragement to be able to do this together.  Now we both pay attention to the food we make, being sure to eat a bit healthier. (Note: Indulgent recipes are on hold in our house for a while.)
This recipe was part of the hunt for something a little lighter to eat.  It doesn't seem light - but it isn't horrible for you.  We even thought it could use less cheese.  Bronwyn loved it because it had noodles and anything with noodles is a win in her book.
I would tell you how much weight I've lost but I schedule these posts WAY in advance... so by time you read this I'm hoping it's double than when I'm write this post. :)  Guess you'll have to ask me if you really want to know.  If you use MyFitnessPal or FitBit - I'd love to be friends!  Let me know!

Cheeseburger Casserole
 2 cups (6 oz) uncooked rotini pasta
2 tsp oil
1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 lb lean ground beef (95% lean)
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
28 oz diced tomatoes
2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
2 cups reduced fat grated cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped dill pickles (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions for al dente and drain well.

 In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the beef and cook until browned; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the tomatoes and mustard. Let the mixture bubble gently until it is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.

Toss the meat mixture with the pasta and spread it into the prepared dish. Top with the cheddar and bake until the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the chopped pickles over the top and serve. Makes about 9 cups.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sneak Peek - One Winter's Night

Sneak Peek - One Winter's Night
New Punch Needle and Cross Stitch from 
Myrtle Grace Motifs 
debuting May 30 - June 1, 2015 
The Needle Arts Trade Show 
Columbus, OH.

Home Stitcher?  Contact your local needlework shop to be sure to get a copy!
Shops?  Be sure to contact Norden Crafts or Hoffman Distributing to stock up!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sneak Peek - EverJoy

Sneak Peek - EverJoy
New Punch Needle and Cross Stitch from 
Myrtle Grace Motifs 
debuting May 30 - June 1, 2015 
The Needle Arts Trade Show 
Columbus, OH.

Home Stitcher?  Contact your local needlework shop to be sure to get a copy!
Shops?  Be sure to contact Norden Crafts or Hoffman Distributing to stock up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How NOT to clean your piping tips...

Duchess Potatoes are one of those fancy dishes that you just don't make at home.  Why?  When you can just as easy make a boxes mashed potato mix or even boil and mash your own spuds?  Well for Easter I wanted the potatoes to be special - Duchess Potatoes.  I thought finding a recipe would be easy.  Oh sure there are plenty of recipes out there, but they were all boring and had no pizzazz to them.  I wanted something with garlic and taste to them.
I noticed that one of the big differences with Duchess Potatoes and make ahead potatoes were egg yolks.  Well that's easy.  I made a modified make ahead mashed potato recipe and added a few egg yolks.  Perfect!  I used one of my big piping tips to pipe them out onto a pan - oh so pretty!  Into the fridge they went with some plastic wrap on top so they wouldn't dry out, then off to clean my dishes.  I'm not sure how you clean your piping tips, I usually try to get as much out of them as possible, using my finger, just slip your finger in and most of the extra comes out.  Well, all of the extra came out, including my finger.  Please note the extra sharp points of this tip.  Yeah, digging into my finger.  I tried to pull it out, not dice.  So I thought about it for a bit.  Tried not to panic, thought of how silly it would be to head to the ER or immediate care with this dumb metal tip on my finger.  I could see myself on some website talking about dumb things people go to the hospital for.
I tried a few things and finally decided to take a needle nose pliers, pull the tip back as far as I could on my finger and bend each tip back.  Sacrificing the tip to save my finger seemed worthwhile.  It wasn't really the kind of bling I like to wear anyway.
Anyway, these potatoes are awesome.  Try them.  Don't stick your finger into the tip!  That's stupid!  Trust me - I know stupid.

Duchess Potatoes
6-8 potatoes
1/2 pkg cream cheese (4 ounces)
1 cup French onion dip-sour cream style
3 egg yolks
garlic salt to taste
Egg Wash:
 1 egg 
 1 tablespoon milk
Paprika (optional)

Peel and boil potatoes until tender; drain.  In large mixing bowl, combine softened cream cheese, dip and garlic salt.  Mix until blended and add hot potatoes one by one, beating until light and fluffy.  Temper the egg yolks with some potato mixture as to not cook them, then add them into the potatoes.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a large tip and pipe out round motions creating a mound of potatoes.
These can be baked immediately or covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for a day.

When ready to bake, mix egg wash and brush on potatoes.  Sprinkle a little paprika on for color, and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until potato edges are golden brown.
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